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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Fred B. Shoken, 06/2002
Home of the Friendless
Inventory No.: B-2968
Date Listed: 11/8/2003
Location: 1313 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1871-1931
Architect/Builder: Builder: William Ortwine
Description: The Home of the Friendless is a three bay wide, five story high Second Empire style brick building constructed in 1870 as an orphanage. The front facade features stretcher bond brick walls, brick rustication on the first floor, brick quoins to define each of the three building sections, a date stone marked "1870" centered above the fourth floor, and a mansard roof. The central bay holds the entrance, comprising double wooden entry doors; paired 4/4 windows define the flanking bays. The side elevations are similar to the front, but are less decorative and feature chimneys projecting through the mansard roof. Wooden porches and exterior stairs project from the rear building walls. An eight foot tall brick wall surrounds the small rear and narrow side yards. A small park adjoins the building to the north. On the interior, a central hallway bisects the plan. The interior features a decorative front entrance stair leading to the second floor, wood wainscoting, hardwood floors, and plaster walls. The building stood vacant for many years, and the interior shows the effects of vandalism and the elements with collapsed plaster ceilings and peeling paint. Twentieth century alterations to the building include an elevator, fluorescent light fixtures, drywall partitions, and an altered rear stairway. The exterior wood trim is deteriorated with peeling paint and damage to the frieze and cornice. Despite these alterations and deterioration, the building retains substantial integrity, with much of its original appearance and fabric intact. Significance: The Home of the Friendless is historically significant for its association with the history of social services in Baltimore. Built in 1870 for the Home of the Friendless, a private organization, the building provided a home for orphaned and deserted children for six decades. It was part of a three-building complex that housed from 100 to 200 children each year, representing an era when large numbers of unwanted children were institutionalized rather than raised in a home environment. On December 20, 1854, the "Home of Friendless Vagrant Girls" was chartered. Organized by a dozen ladies, the purpose of the institution was to provide "refuge and a Christian home for homeless, friendless and worse than friendless vagrant girls." If parents were "vicious" or utterly destitute, girls became permanent residents of the Home of the Friendless. If parents were virtuous and industrious, but unable to afford support, the girls were received in daily attendance, clothed, and provided with one good meal. Girls were taught "the rudiments of English education, the use of the needle and general housework. The objective of the organization was to train and prepare the children to enter the service of Christian families." The institution also provided an early form of day care in a "nursery where women who go out to labor by the day can leave their young children and have them kindly cared for." Poor women also found employment in a sewing room for 12 1/2 cents a day. The home originally opened in a small house on Buren Street, and soon moved to a double rowhouse on Pearl Street where it operated until 1860 when land was purchased to build a permanent home. In 1865, a lot adjoining the 1861 building was purchased for a boys' home, which was completed in 1871. Both buildings had been constructed by William Ortwine, who became the superintendent of the new building. In an era when segregation was the norm within Baltimore institutions, the Home of the Friendless only housed white children; however, the neighborhood surrounding it had become predominantly African American by the early 20th century. By 1922 the Board of Managers and Trustees had decided to sell the property and move to the suburbs to provide the children with more space in a more desirable setting. The Home merged in 1931 with another institution, the Baltimore Orphan Asylum, to form the Children's Home of Baltimore, Inc. Eventually the institution merged into the Woodbourne Center. Today, Woodbourne serves 5,000 at-risk children and their families providing psychiatric, educational, and social work services. The original building on Druid Hill Avenue has been demolished, but the 1870 boys' home remains.


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